The Indian Volunteers in the German Army and Waffen-SS

Discussions on the foreigners (volunteers as well as conscripts) fighting in the German Wehrmacht, those collaborating with the Axis and other period Far Right organizations. Hosted by George Lepre.
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panzerIV
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The Indian Volunteers in the German Army and Waffen-SS

Post by panzerIV » 05 May 2003 20:24

i know that there was indian soldiers in the Wehrmacht... but where there any of them in Waffen SS? and were all of them prisoners forced into german war service?

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 05 May 2003 20:27

Yes, the Indian volunteers in Infanterie-Regiment 950 (indische) were transferred to the Waffen-SS Aug 1944 and the unit was renamed Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS.

/Marcus

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panzerIV
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Post by panzerIV » 05 May 2003 20:38

OK THANKS, DO YOU KNOW IF ALL OF THEM WERE ALLIED PRISONERS FORCED INTE TO GERMAN SERVICE? AND HOW MANY?

daveh
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Post by daveh » 06 May 2003 01:13

some sources you may find of interest

http://www.wssob.com/000legind.html

http://www.feldgrau.com/lindian.html

http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/in-azhin.html

The Indian Legion is a joke. There are Indians that can't kill a louse, and would prefer to allow themselves to be devoured. They certainly aren't going to kill any Englishmen... I imagine that if one were to use the Indians to turn prayer wheels or something like that they would be the most indefatigable soldiers in the world. But it would be ridiculous to commit them to a real blood struggle... — Adolf Hitler

from http://axis101.bizland.com/IndianStamps.htm

Indische Freiwilligen-Legion 950.

Meanwhile in North Africa, the entire British 3rd Motorized Brigade, composed of Indian personnel was taken as prisoners of war (POW). On 15 May 1941, a German intelligence airforce officer was sent to the POW Camp for the purpose of recruiting English speaking Indian troops. The German officer managed to convince 27 Indian Officers to fly towards Berlin. These 27 officers and Indian residents living in Germany meet with the Indian Leader Subhas Chandra Bose where they discussed the propaganda value of recruiting and forming of the Azad Hind or Indian Legion.

The Indian leader had toured the Annaberg camp, where about 10,000 Indian prisoners were held; and gathered enough volunteers to form a regiment. Subsequently around 6000 Indian POWs were recruited and sent to the training camp at Frankenburg. About 300 Indian troops were selected for further training and sent to Konigsbruck near Dresden, where they received German uniforms.

A special designated arm shield was worn on their uniform. The shield had the Indian national colors in horizontal stripes with a leaping tiger superimposed over the white band of the tricolor and with the inscription "Freies Indien" on top.

Sikhs in the Legion were permitted to wear a turban as dictated by their religion. These men constituted the "Freies Indien" Legion of the German Army and took their oath of allegiance in a ceremony on 26th August 1942. Eventually the Indian Legion expanded from 300 to 2000 members. The Germans designated it the "Indische Freiwilligen-Legion Regiment 950" (Indian volunteer Legion Regiment 950), who was commanded by the German officer Oberstleutnant Kurt Krappe.

Its personnel were two-thirds Moslem and one-third Hindu. This time all the Legionnaires wore German uniforms with an arm shield. The Legion had German Officers and the language used was English. At Bose’s recommendation, all volunteers, regardless of previous rank, began their military training as privates. By mid-January 1943, the legion effective strength was composed of 1503 Hindus, 516 Sikhs, 497 Moslems and 77 others divided into three battalions. The Indian formation with 2593 men was attached to the German 404th Infantry Division and assigned to the Zeeland region of Holland.

From early May to early September 1943, the Indian Legion was stationed in Zeeland. On 17 September 1943, the Indian Legion left Haarlem, Holland and re-deployed to St Andre de Cubzac in southwest France. By early May 1944, the Legion was assigned to the Zandvoort region. In June 1944, the Legion was sent to the Bay of Biscay, France to relieved the 822nd Georgian Infantry Battalion undertaking "Atlantic Wall" duties. Following the allied invasion of Normandie, the Legion was withdrawn temporarily to the Netherlands.

By August 1944, the Legion was transferred into the Waffen-SS with a strength of 2300 men. The unit was sent to France without it’s six anti-tank guns and seventy-one motor vehicles. Designated as the "Indische Freiwilligen-Legion der Waffen-SS" under the command of SS-Oberfuhrer Heinz Bertling, it was tasked in non-combative assignments and serve for propaganda purposes, however did confronted French Free troops in the town of Dun. During house-to-house fighting, the Legion suffered its first combat fatality, Lt Ali Khan, who was buried with military honors. The legion lost more men killed during night marches through Luzy, crossing the Loire and moving towards Dijon, France.
By December 1944, the legion was moved into the empty military training camp at Heuberg, Germany. The Indian troops stayed in Heuberg until the end of March 1945, when they marched along the Bodensee in an attempt to cross over into neutral Switzerland via the Alpine passes. It was here where the American and French forces overran the Indian Legion. They were marched into captivity and eventually shipped backed to India where they awaited their trial for treason.



Indian Volunteers in other Axis formations

The German Branderburgers and agents recruited men from the Indian Legion. The Indian volunteers were incorporated as part of 4th Regiment, 800.Bau Lehrdivision zur Besonderen Verwendung Branderburg" (800th Special Purpose Construction Training Division Brandenburg). They were quartered at Meseritz, where they were trained in parachuting and sabotage operations. In January 1942, 100 Indian airborne troops were launched into eastern Iran in order to infiltrate into India through Baluchistan and start sabotage operations against the British. Oberleutnant Witzel in Afghanistan reported to the Abwehr that the Indian landing had been successful. Eventually the operation was disbanded.

It should be noted that after some success in recruiting Legionnaires, Subhas Chandra Bose was taken by German submarine U-180, where they were transferred in rough seas near Madagascar to the Japanese submarine I-29. On 6 May 1943, the Japanese submarine arrived at Sabang harbor on We Island off the northernmost tip of Japanese occupied Sumatra (Malaysia). There the Japanese took him to Singapore where he set up his provisional government of Azad Hind on 21 October 1943. He organized an Indian National Army, composed of three divisions in Burma. These divisions did see some extensive action while fighting along side the Japanese. Some Indian units under Japanese subordination were allowed to administer the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Bose was killed in an air crash on the island of Formosa on 18 August 1945. The Azad Hind movement disappeared with his death.

Meanwhile in early 1942, the Italians formed an Indian Legion in North Africa, by recruiting prisoners of war (POW). The Indian Legionnaires wore Italian army tropical uniforms. On their right sleeve they wore an arm shield patch showing the Indian national colors. However the Indian Legionnaires refused to serve under Italian command, and the project was disbanded.

Hope this helps

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panzerIV
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Post by panzerIV » 06 May 2003 12:49

thansk very much, i think that is what i was looking for..

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ckleisch
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Post by ckleisch » 06 May 2003 23:43

Marcus Wendel wrote:Yes, the Indian volunteers in Infanterie-Regiment 950 (indische) were transferred to the Waffen-SS Aug 1944 and the unit was renamed Indische Freiwilligen Legion der Waffen-SS.

/Marcus


Entire German effort fell under the movement "Azahind". Partys even printed their own postage stamps for use. Leader was Subahataras(spelling) Bose.

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Dan E. Moe
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Pictures of INdian Legion

Post by Dan E. Moe » 11 Jun 2003 20:04

Does anybody have pictures of the Indian Legion wearing German or Indian medals? (Or British)

Dan

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Post by gabriel pagliarani » 12 Jun 2003 23:00

What do you mean for Indian Legion? Gurkhas of 8th British Army in Italy? I know where is their own Cemetery under Coriano Hill, just on the 4th km of the highway from Rimini towards S.Marino. There are a lot of them resting there. The battle for Coriano was a topic event during the piercing of the Gothic Line in late Autumn 1944 and a bloody affair: the toll for free access to Tiberius Bridge and the access to Via Emilia was payed mainly by Canadians and Gurkhas.

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Dan E. Moe
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Post by Dan E. Moe » 13 Jun 2003 10:41

No, i mean Legion Azad Hind aka; Indische Infanterie Regiment.950

Dan

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hauptmannn
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An amusing insight into the Indian Legion

Post by hauptmannn » 16 Jul 2003 15:28

Below is a short extract (amusing) on the Indian Legion while they were training in Germany before being sent to the Atlantic Wall. It was written at the time (1943) by Kritter, a training officer. (Extracted from his diary). I will be posting more material on the Legion but start with this because its fun:

The German staff has…come together as a result of haphazard postings. Some of them have little skill in handling men of other races. Involuntarily they fall back into the all too well-known Prussian tone in their dealings with the men and shout at the Indians with all the range of barrack-room language at their disposal. They don’t even make an exception with the Indian corporals. The Indians on their side have a particularly sensitive code of honour…Every rough word, however normal in the army, touches them on a sensitive point. Every differential treatment from a German officer, however unintended, is regarded as wilful and personal discrimination. At least one soldier turns up every day in the orderly room often with tears in his eyes with a complaint about discriminatory treatment. It can therefore happen that a soldier after a stiff two hour duty on the machine gun and such orders as Down! Up! Change of Gunners! declares that he wants to resign from the legion because his section leader has treated him badly….in a German company they would all be put under arrest for mutiny, if not more; here one has to take the complaint seriously and try, with humour if possible, to put things back onto a normal military level….type of passive resistance: not getting out of bed, squatting down during drill, hunger strike, refusing to report for outdoor duty, transferring a cook to another company where he denies he can cook at all, etc. etc…

I do not think this reflects badly on the Indian soldiers in the sense of them being no good.

1 First who was manipulating who? The more the Germans indulged them, the worse they became.

2 This conduct was temporary. They certainly did not behave like this in France and Holland.

3 Indian soldiers fought bravely during the war. This attitude was therefore politically motivated.

4 Of the 60,000 Indian soldiers who fought alongside the Axis, the vast majority fought superbly, particularly in North East India. The Legion was not given the opportunity to show its fighting skill against the enemy. On the one occasion when it was deployed against American troops, it earned quite a few Iron Crosses.

5 I believe the extract actually reflects well on them. It shows that they were not German puppets. They had the Germans in their pockets. Their history is marked by the extraordinary concessions the Germans granted them.

6 Ultimately, this has to be placed in context. Some of these men behaved this way but it was a temporary phase. Had they had the chance to be deployed near India, I have no doubt that they would have acted differently. They did not enlist to fight the Soviets unlike other foreign troops. Hence no motivation.

7 While the extract gives the impression of them being sissies this is not so. There were several cases of the Legionnaires brutally murdering each other. Even the Germans turned a blind eye to this preferring not to get involved. Fifty years on they are remembered across France for the trail of destruction they left behind.

8 kritter may have overdone his description. Frankly does it not seem a bit much?

I would appreciate thoughts anyone might have on this.
Last edited by hauptmannn on 19 Jul 2003 17:48, edited 2 times in total.

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Dan E. Moe
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Re: An amusing insight into the Indian Legion

Post by Dan E. Moe » 16 Jul 2003 16:22

4 Of the 60,000 Indian soldiers who fought alongside the Axis, the vast majority fought superbly, particularly in North East India. The Legion was not given the opportunity to show its fighting skill against the enemy. On the one occasion when it was deployed against American troops, it earned quite a few Iron Crosses.


Did Any Indian Legionairre receive the Iron Cross?

dan

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Legion Azad Hind pictures

Post by Dan E. Moe » 16 Jul 2003 16:24

Hi!

I would like to see whatever kind of photos you have from the Indian Legion :)

Specially pictures of Indian soldiers wearing awards.

dan

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hauptmannn
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iron crosses for Indians

Post by hauptmannn » 16 Jul 2003 21:27

Indians were awarded Iron Crosses besides their own medals.

I need some time but I can find quite a few names and references which I will post asap. Contary to popular myth, they did engage US troops and fought in that encounter with distinction. This information does not come from photographs but from reliable written material such as a Volkischer Beobachter article on this. I'll try to get the date and more specifics.
Last edited by hauptmannn on 17 Jul 2003 18:23, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Dan E. Moe » 16 Jul 2003 22:34

That would be very nice!!

dan

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Daniel L
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Post by Daniel L » 16 Jul 2003 23:01

Interesting post Hauptmann,

unfortunately I haven't read enough about the Indian Legion to make a good comment. Anyway, it might be worth comparing Kritter's comments with reports from British officers about Indians in service with them.

Best regards/ Daniel

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